Table of Contents
What is the irritable bowel syndrome?
Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, is a relatively common syndrome of abdominal discomfort or pain, bloating, and changes in bowel habits. IBS is the most common gastrointestinal complaint in the United States, affecting up to 40 million people. It can affect men and women of all ages. However, for unknown reasons it most often strikes the young and female. IBS generally first appears in people in their 20s to 40s, and women are roughly three times more likely to suffer from this.
It seems that 24% of women in the United States suffer from IBS. Moreover, women with IBS seem to have more symptoms during their periods, suggesting that reproductive hormones may play a role. The pain or cramping with IBS can be a dull ache over one or several areas of the abdomen. For some, the pain can be intolerable and without relief. Some people with IBS suffer predominantly from constipation, while others suffer predominantly from diarrhea. Some IBS patients have alternating bouts of both.
IBS involves an abnormality of the muscular action that passes food along the colon. This condition is also described as increased nerve sensitivity in the colon. It is important to know that IBS is not categorized as a disease, but as a syndrome, since it represents a collection of symptoms. IBS is considered as functional disorder because there is no identifiable pathology and it can strike otherwise healthy people. Biological, psychological, and social factors can all contribute to symptoms of the irritable bowel syndrome.